GFM Network News


The facts and fallacies of foliar feeding and other mistaken beliefs

Environmental conditions can dramatically affect the uptake of foliar-applied nutrients

Foliar feeding has been frequently advocated in recent years as a way to boost crop yields, or in the case of nitrogen (N) as a boost for grain protein in wheat. In reality, plants take in very little fertilizer directly through their leaves or stems. In a way, it is a process that does not […] Read more

Mycorrhizal linkage to crop plants in normal soils have been shown to supply phosphate, copper and zinc to growing crops.

Facts about phosphorus you should know

Highly-manured soils, wet growing conditions and lodging in cereal crops

Phosphorus or phosphate (P) is the most complex of the big four macronutrients in crop production. When you buy phosphate fertilizer, you are actually buying P2O5 the oxidized version, which is 62 parts actual P and 80 parts oxygen. Your actual P is only 43 per cent by weight. The phosphate in all soils is […] Read more


Sulphur pollution has been greatly reduced in recent years, so much so that some croplands now require sulphur for specific high-demand crops.

Why is there no mention of sulphur?

The reasons behind this nutrient’s anonymity

Sulphur (S) is one of the big four macronutrient fertilizers required by both plants and animals. Calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) could be added to this list but for reasons unknown they are given a lesser role in crop production in North America. When I was first involved in agriculture in the 1950s, nitrogen (N) […] Read more

The importance of molybdenum

Molybdenum (Mo) is important to the growth of all plants, including your canola

Animals and plants require trace amounts of molybdenum. Its importance is vastly disproportionate with regard to the amount required for normal growth. In past years, most farmers and soil scientists were just getting to grips with sulphur and phosphate requirements of crop plants, let alone nitrogen and potash. It seemed as long as you had […] Read more


Micronutrients and prairie agriculture

As we increase expected yields, we need to consider micronutrient availability

In my many years of involvement in agricultural and horticultural pursuits, I have repeatedly come across cynicism when I talk about the need for micronutrients. North Americans, as well as Europeans, are slow to realize the absolute role that micronutrients play in plant and animal health and well-being. Unlike horticulturalists, particularly the Dutch horticulturalist specialists, […] Read more

Aster yellow damage in 2012

The real extent of the crop yield damage done by aster yellows that summer

Aster yellows is a minute phytoplasma bacterium that causes losses annually to a wide range of farm and horticultural crops. Most years, it is usual to see little in the way of aster yellows damage to canola, the most obviously affected crop. When you check canola fields in full bloom you can often pick out […] Read more


Facts can be stranger than fiction

These mineral and nutritional facts about plants and animals are strange, but true

If you need some very interesting reading this winter consider buying a book called, Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori. It’s fascinating. Drori describes trees from all around the world, including Canada. For example, rubber got its name from the original latex that the British used to cut into chunks to rub […] Read more

The 2019 harvest on the Prairies left little to be desired, with crops still left in fields for a good number of farmers.

Speeding up crop maturity

Consider these nine factors to make sure you have time to get your crop in the bin in 2020

Last season, 2019, was a bad crop-growing season on the Canadian Prairies. There are various estimates of 10 to 25 per cent of all crops left unharvested in swaths or even still standing on cropland. Well, in that case, 75 to 90 per cent of the crop is in the bin, despite the weather. Lots […] Read more


An acre of such soil may have up to 1,000 lbs. of earthworms, 2,500 lbs. of fungi, 1,500 lbs. of bacteria and up to 1,000 lbs. of protozoa and insects — most fully active in June and July.

Understanding soil organic matter

Do you know your crop residues from your soil organic matter?

The word “organic,” just like “environmental” has become confusing over the last 20 or 30 years. Organic food for example? All the food we eat is organic (except salt or other minerals). All farming activities are environmental, but every misinformed urbanite calls him or herself an environmentalist. “Soil organic matter” is made up of a […] Read more

Those pesky pigeons

Turn your on-farm nuisance into a new hobby for the New Year

Are there any farmsteads on the Canadian Prairies that do not have a flock of circling pigeons looking for spoiled grain? Believe it or not, pigeons were the first birds to be domesticated many thousands of years ago. Worldwide, countless millions of pigeons are kept for racing, ornamentation, fun and food. There are some 310 […] Read more